New teen driving laws recently signed into law, change the ground rules for teen driving and also open new doors for law enforcement, which can be abused.
As part of the new measures, police will now be allowed to pull over drivers under 18 for not wearing a seat belt. This was previously not the case. Pennsylvania law follows the ruling in Commonwealth v. Henderson that the police cannot stop people lawfully simply because of a lack of a seatbelt. It is what is technically called a secondary offense. In other words, there needs to be another sufficient reason to pull over a driver besides the seatbelt violation. These new laws introduce the opportunity for police officers to claim that they made a reasonable subjective (but objectively wrong) guess that the person in the car with the driver or the driver him or herself was under 18. They can use this rationale to justify the stop.
With police officers already blatantly abusing our constitutional rights by making unlawful stops, this measure has the potential to further infringe upon our protection against search without probable cause. While everyone agrees that seatbelts save lives, we also must agree that there should not be per-textual stops.
One response to “New Teen Driving Laws Leave the Potential for Abuse”
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